8 ways to redistribute the power balance

Has your partner become a controlling, dominant force in your relationship?

There are ways to redistribute the power balance and get back on the same team, discovers David Goding.

1. Be calm but assertive
It’s pointless trying to match the controller’s negativity or aggression, but you need to stand your ground.

“There is a middle ground in responding to conflict that is neither aggressive nor passive,” says Harder. “This is the path in which you assert your own rights, and support the rights of others.”

2. Speak slowly and don’t argue
When a control freak is firing they tend to raise their volume as well as the speed in which they talk. Before you know it, you’ve engaged in a heated and rapid exchange of words and your point is lost.

Instead, slow down the conversation and take a breath to pause as you gather your thoughts between exchanges.

3. Make your own demands

Take some control yourself and ask your partner to do something for you. Ask firmly and with appreciation of their efforts. This is the quickest way to gain back some of the control and remind your partner that they are also there to help you out.

4. Repeat your wishes

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, repeat your wishes until your partner is forced to acknowledge them. It’s easy to get distracted when the controller is belittling or dismissing your needs, but try to stay focused and hold your ground. Repeating your wishes, when it’s something that is important to you, makes you sound more determined and your resolve stronger. It will also ensure that you are taken seriously.

5. Be aware of their anxiety levels
A control freak is at their worst when they are stressed and anxious so be aware of their moods and try not to engage with them on serious issues when they appear to be wound up.
If you have something important to discuss with them, pick a moment when they are at their most relaxed.

6. Dispel tension with humour
It may feel like the last tactic you’d use to combat a controller but, if done right, it can be a surprisingly effective way of counteracting the seriousness and dispelling the tension between the two of you.

Introducing humour into your regular communication also encourages a more flexible approach and encourages you both to look at the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down by tedious detail.

7. Take time out
Taking time out is a useful way of preventing arguments from escalating. You can either say plainly that you’re not prepared to talk about the subject in question at that time, or that you need to think about how you feel about it before you get back to them. Better still, says Dr McKay, is to work out a time-out agreement, where you both walk away for a cooling off period.

“The person calling the time-out should immediately leave the room or, ideally, the house,” he says. “A time-out should last for one hour, give or take five minutes. If it goes longer, people start to feel abandoned. Shorter and there’s not enough time to cool off. Stay out of each other’s presence for the entire time; don’t return early.”

8. Set a time limit

Finally, you need to set a time limit for things to change. It’s possible that things won’t improve, despite your best efforts. In some cases, a controlling partner may get worse as they get older. So if things improve, fine, but if not, your best option is probably to get out while your self esteem is still intact.

Is your partner showing signs of becoming a control freak? Learn how to deal with your relationship and live a happier life.

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.